This is the first of three articles on a mini series entitled ‘Inculcating Love and Followership During the Occultation of the 12th Imām (ʿaj).
We hope to explore our duty to Imām Mahdī (ʿaj) from three perspectives:
- Building a relationship with the Imām (ʿaj) at home (this article)
- Building a personal connection with the Imām (ʿaj)
- Building a communal and societal followership
Scholars and ʿulamāʾ often talk about actively awaiting Imām Mahdī’s reappearance instead of passively waiting.
What does that mean?
Passively waiting means to wait without taking any active steps or actions to move forward or make progress. It is a state of being in which one is not actively working towards a goal or objective, but rather waiting for something to happen or for something to be done by someone else.
In the context of our awaited Imām (ʿaj) this means knowing he will one day reappear but not doing anything to hasten the reappearance and not preparing to take the steps required to build our character and a relationship with him, so that when he does appear, we readily accept him and join his mission.
It means going about our daily life of work, school, study and fun with very little thought dedicated to Imām Mahdī (ʿaj). In the back of our minds we know he exists and he’s there somewhere but he is an afterthought.
On the other hand, actively waiting means taking the necessary steps to ensure he reappears as soon as possible and preparing ourselves to join his mission.
In this article, we share six methods for actively waiting for Imam Mahdī (ʿaj) within our homes and family unit, with the hope it will prepare us for his blessed reappearance, inshāʾAllāh!
Learn More About His Life
It is impossible to love someone, let alone actively wait for them to appear, if we don’t know who they are.
Learning about Imām Mahdī (ʿaj) has two levels. There’s knowing his biography and facts about him and there’s having deep maʿrifah (intimate knowledge) of him.
We should begin with the first type of knowledge. There are plenty of biographies on the Imām (ʿaj) available at reputable sources made for different age groups. A family unit should come and read them together.
Consider the following works:
- The Life of Imam Mahdi by Baqir al-Shareef Qurashi is perhaps the most detailed.
- Our Responsibilities during the Period of Occultation of the Present Imam by Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
- Universal Government of the Mahdi by Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi
For example, did you know:
- Imām Mahdī’s birth was miraculous in that his mother’s pregnancy was made hidden to his enemies ?
- The Imām (ʿaj) was only five years old when he assumed the Imāmate!
There are many other facts about Imām Mahdī (ʿaj) that people of all ages can benefit from and find interesting.
Going a step further from standard facts like his birth date, there are plenty of letters, narrations (ḥadīth) and advice preserved from the Imām (ʿaj). We should read these and reflect on them. There are so many lessons to be derived and applied from his wisdom.
The signs of Imām Mahdī’s reappearance are numerous and can help urge us to be more proactive, as it is a reminder to us that it is not something that is far off. We should reflect on these, do an independant journaling exercise or even have a few dinner table family conversations about them. A valuable commentary on these signs can be found in this easy to read Q&A.
Did you know that the Imām (ʿaj) visits some of his shīʿah [although the person who he visits doesn’t realize it’s the Imām, until the Imām (ʿaj) has left his presence].
For example, it is widely accepted that the prominent scholar, Sayyid Muḥammad Mahdī Baḥrul ʿUlūm visited with Imām Mahdī (ʿaj). Details of this event can be found in various scholarly works.1
Lastly, there are many narrations by Imām Mahdī (ʿaj) and about him from the other immaculate Imāms (ʿa), that provide a substantial amount of information about the awaited savior. Imām Jaʿfar aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) has said,
“Learn who your Imām is. When you learn who he is then it will have no effect on you whether this matter (the rise of al-Mahdī) will take place earlier or later.”2
Can you see how we are progressing from basic facts to really getting to know the Imām (ʿaj) and his character and personality? These are the first steps to develop deep knowledge or maʿrifah of the Imām of our time.
Recite Supplications Dedicated to the Imām (ʿaj)
Book and video knowledge only takes us so far in understanding Imām Mahdī (ʿaj). Our brains can hold and memorize many facts about the Imām. However, to gain deep and spiritual knowledge, we need to connect to the Imām (ʿaj) with our hearts, and there’s no better way than through supplications or duʿās dedicated to him.
Duʿāʾ al-ʿAhd is a very important duʿāʾ that we should try to recite every morning before Ẓuhr prayer. It is a supplication where we renew our allegiance to Imām Mahdī (ʿaj). The world and all its distractions often remove the remembrance of the Imām from our minds and hearts. Getting into the habit of reciting Duʿāʾ al-ʿAhd will help keep us on track.
Imām Jaʿfar aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) has said:
“One who recites this duʿāʾ for forty days, will be included among the helpers of Ḥaḍrat Qāʾim (ʿaj). If he dies before the reappearance of al-Qāʾim, the Almighty Allah will bring him out of his grave so he can be of service to that Noble One (ʿaj). For every word of this supplication, Allah (swt) will honor him with a thousand good deeds (ḥasanāt) and one thousand sins shall be erased from him.”3
Provided you continue to fulfill all your other Islamic obligations and do your best to refrain from sin, Duʿāʾ al-ʿAhd can get you into direct service of the Imām (ʿaj)!
Among the most important supplications within our tradition is Duʿāʾ an-Nudbah, which roughly translates to the “supplication of lamentation.”
It is a duʿāʾ recommended to be recited in a sorrowful manner every Friday. It is widely considered that the Imām’s reappearance will occur on a Friday, so when Friday arrives and we see that he has yet to appear, we recite this duʿāʾ of lamentation, expressing our sadness and grief as yet another Friday passes and he is veiled from those who love and follow him.
Committing to reciting the duʿās on our own can be a difficult habit to develop. This can be achievable by doing it together as a family, or encouraging your friends and making it a social event to recite the duʿāʾ and perhaps have a discussion over a meal.
Make time as a family unit to recite the supplications. If mornings are busy due to work or school, you can listen to them in a language you understand on your way to school or work.
This supplication is also known as Duʿāʾ Allāhumma kun li-waliyyika. It is recommended to recite this duʿāʾ as often as you can. It is a short supplication for the health and protection of Imām Mahdī (ʿaj).
Give Charity and Other Gifts on Behalf of the Imam (ʿaj)
Giving to charity on behalf of Imām Mahdī (ʿaj) is a way of demonstrating that we love him and are thinking of him – and who is more worthy of our wealth and contemplation than the Imām (ʿaj)?
When we give money to charity, we are doing so for a social cause, such as providing food or shelter for someone, so who better to give it to, than on behalf of Imām Mahdī (ʿaj) who will be the ultimate reformer of society and will end all social ills?
And our gift for the Imām (ʿaj) doesn’t need to be restricted to charity. We can do anything permissible (ḥalāl) on his behalf. This includes reciting the Noble Qurʾān or performing the night prayer.
Pray for His Reappearance
This is a recommendation directly from the Imām (ʿaj). He says:
“Pray a lot for my appearance because your relief is also in that.”4
If you don’t have time for anything else, the minimum you can do is recite a short prayer in any language you want, asking Allah (swt) to hasten Imām Mahdī’s reappearance. Imagine, if the entire Shīʿah community spent 20 seconds making a short prayer! It would bring his reappearance forward manifold, inshāʾAllāh!
Sending Salāms to the Imām (ʿa)
Islamic law says it is obligatory (wājib) to return a salām. If we send a salām to Imām Mahdī (ʿaj) it is incumbent he responds. How amazing is it that he responds to everyone who sends a salām to him? Although we can’t hear it, we can be certain he has heard us and responded.
Sending salāms is easy, it only takes three seconds. Try and get into the habit of saluting your Imām (ʿa) first thing in the morning, last thing before sleeping and in-between after every obligatory prayer.
The suggestions so far are an excellent way to slowly build a connection with your Imām (ʿaj), as long as they are done consistently, you’ll find that:
- You feel more love for him
- You start feeling genuine sadness that he is not around
- You start thinking of him more naturally and easily
- You feel like wanting to be a good Muslim
These are all amazing feelings.
But let’s take it a step further.
Adopting a Lifestyle Pleasing to Imām Mahdī (ʿaj)
To become totally embedded and aligned with Imām Mahdī (ʿaj), we have to emulate his conduct and character traits and practice Islam as it was intended. Performing supplications and other recommendations is a great start but our words need to be followed by sincere action.
Afterall, what value is there in renewing allegiance every morning with Duʿāʾ al-ʿAhd or sending greetings to the Imām (ʿaj), if our lifestyle is diametrically opposed to what he stands for?
Questions for us to consider and reflect upon:
- Are we performing our religious duties?
- When did I last pick up the Qurʾān? The Imām (ʿaj) is a man of the Qurʾān.
- Am I hanging out with the right people?
- If the Imām (ʿaj) came into my home, can I let him in immediately or would I have to ask him to wait so I can rearrange my house?
- Would I get anxious if the Imām (ʿaj) was scrolling through my phone/social media feed?
- Do I work in a profession the Imām (ʿaj) would approve of?
- How is my conduct with my spouse, parents, children and the wider community?
In this regard, Imām Jaʿfar aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) said:
“One who wants to be a companion of the Qāʾim, should await him and while waiting, he should be pious and perform righteous deeds; in case he dies and the Qāʾim reappears after that, his reward is the same as that of one who lives till the time of His Eminence.”5
Don’t put pressure on yourself to do everything on this list! You will overburden yourself.
“Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you.” 6
Start with something small, light and achievable on a daily basis. Being a Muslim is not about short bursts of intense activity, but rather long-term consistency. By starting with something small, you can slowly develop your capacity to take on more, inshāʾAllāh!
May Allah (swt) hasten the reappearance of the Awaited One (ʿaj) and may we live to see and enjoy his victory.
- Muḥammad ibn Jaʿfar ʿArāqī, Dār al-Islam, P. 440
- Al-Kāfī, Vol. 1, Ḥadīth #1
- Mafātīḥ al-Jinān, Section Three: On Ziyārāt, Duʿāʾ ʿAhd
- Shaykh Ṣadūq, Kamāluddīn wa Tamāmun Niʿmah, Vol. 2, 485, Imam’s letter to his second special representative, Is’haq ibn Yaqoob
- Muḥammad Taqī, Mikyāl al-Makārim fī fawāʾid ad-Duʿāʾ lil-Qāʾim, Vol. 2
- Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Baqarah (2), Verse 285